Google is facing yet another antitrust investigation, this time regarding Google Pay in India. An anonymous complaint has been filed with the Competiton Commission of India. The complaint accuses Google of unfair means of promotion of its own products over competitions.
Here’s what the CCI press released stated –
[Google has been] unfairly privileging Google Pay by prominent placement on the Play Store, Android OS and Android-based smartphones by skewing the search results on the Play Store in favour of Google Pay; by rigging its featured app lists to include Google Pay in categories, such as “Editors’ Choice Apps”, “User Choice App of 2018” and “#Top Free app” demonstrating clear bias in favour of its own app; by manipulating the search advertisements algorithm on the Play Store in favour of Google Pay; and by pre-installing and prominently placing Google Pay on Android smartphones at the time of initial set-up resulting in a “status-quo bias” to the detriment of other apps facilitating payments through UPI as well as other methods of payment, such as mobile wallets, net banking, etc.
b.) mandating apps to use Play Store’s payment system and Google Play In-App Billing for charging their users for purchase of apps on Play Store and In-App purchases (which privileges Google Pay over other apps facilitating payment through UPI and mobile wallets), if they want to be listed on the Play Store; and
c.) imposing unfair terms on users by requiring them to use Google Pay which is not in compliance with the data localisation directive issued by Reserve Bank of India and the guidelines issued by NPCI.
“Not a Monopoly”
As a counter-argument to this statement, Google says that it does not even qualify as a monopoly and faces heavy competition from feature phones in India. Google also says that 40% of app downloads do not happen from the Play Store in India. The internet giant further says that it wants what’s in the best interests of its consumers and does not grant unmerited prominence or favor in rankings to its own apps.
Of course, CCI didn’t agree with completely with Google’s statements and stated the fact that Android is infact dominant as far as licensable smartphone operating systems and app stores go.
The Commission will be opening an antitrust investigation about whether or not Google is interfering with the search results and other things.